City progresses on W. First Street improvements

City Council
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     The City of Monticello was approved for a $100,000 Catalyst Grant for the restoration of the former Compadres building on W. First Street. This required a $50,000 city match.

     During the July 6 Monticello City Council meeting, the council approved an agreement between the city, Iowa Economic Development Authority, Iowa Center for Rural Revitalization, and Community Catalyst and Derelict Building Grant.

     Council member Dave Goedken asked with all of the money going into this project, a total of $150,000 at this point, would the city be able to resell it at the grant cost.

     “A grant is not free,” he said. “It’s still taxpayer dollars.”

     He said he doesn’t want to put this amount of money into the property if it’s going to sit empty/vacant “like the Zimmerman property” on Chestnut Street.

     Jones County Economic Development Director Derek Lumsden warned that the city cannot attempt to sell or do anything with the Compadres property until July 2023 when the grant ends.

     “It has to be two years after the work is complete,” he said. “You can’t put a tax value on it until after that two years because there is no way of knowing what the value might be.”

     Mayor Brian Wolken added that because this is a state grant, there is a lot the state can do when it comes to making sure the property does not sit empty, unlike the Zimmerman situation when the city sold the lot to a private developer.

     “The city has leverage with the agreement and with the investors,” said Lumsden.

     “We made a mistake with the last one; we don’t make another,” Goedken said, again, referring to the Zimmerman situation.

     Kaye Junion inquired as to whether the city’s investment in the Compadres is even worth it.

     “With all of the money invested, what do you have going on there?” she asked.

     Lumsden informed Junion that this is a commercial real estate project with a restaurant proposed in the lower portion, and apartments on the second floor.

     “There would be income generated from both,” said Lumsden of the occupants.

     The council approved the agreement, with Council member Tom Yeoman abstaining due to a conflict of interest in the development.

     “Our end goal is to have long-term retention on the investment,” said Mayor Brian Wolken.

In other city business:

   • Tom Osborne, chair of the Fourth of July Parade Committee, thanked the city for their financial support of the parade this year.

     “We had a great event,” he praised.

     He also thanked the Public Works and Police Department for their assistance as well in setting up the parade route and placement of barricades.

     Wolken lots of out-of-towners come to Monticello for the parade.

     • The council tabled approving the purchase of a pickup truck for Public Works.

     • The council approved the first reading amending the Code of Ordinances for provisions pertaining to floodplain management.

     • The council amending the Code of Ordinances pertaining to liquor licenses and wine and beer permits and prohibited sales. This is to reflect changes to the state code.

     • Public Works Director Nick Kahler informed the council that they are looking at cleaning up the park and ride area on X-44/Amber Road.

     “It’s state ground but the upkeep is on us,” he said. “We need to work on lighting to deter any issues out there.”

     • Goedken asked Parks and Rec Director Jacob Oswald about the condition of the bushes and landscaping in front of the Aquatic Center.

     “That will be a main hub to our community with the playground out there,” Goedken said of future projects.

     Oswald said those landscaping issues would be addressed within the week, noting the Family Fun Night set for July 10 (which was postponed due to the weather).

     Wolken suggested looking into landscaping that would require less maintenance than what was there.


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